January 26th, 2020 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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January 26th, 2020

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday of the Word of God

Catholic Schools Week

 “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”


The first of this week’s image is called The Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael.

This image depicts the marriage of Mary and Joseph.  It was completed in the year 1504.

This image shows the priest joining Mary and Joseph together in marriage, while Joseph presents a ring to the Blessed Virgin.

Joseph holds a staff with small flowers on the end.  Tradition says that Joseph’s staff began to bud with flowers to indicate that he was chosen by God to be the husband of the Blessed Virgin.


The second image is another depiction of the adoration of the Christ child at his Nativity.  It is called the Adoration of the Shepherds by Matthias Stomer.

It very beautifully shows everyone admiring the newborn child.  All the light from the picture radiates from the baby Jesus, lighting up the faces and hands of everyone gathered around.  Truly Jesus is the light of the world, and art like this helps communicate this to us.


You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke






January 19, 2020 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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January 19th, 2020

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”


The first of this weeks’ images is a statue of Mary portrayed as Mother of the Unborn.  This statue is at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lacrosse, WI.  (We are planning to take a parish pilgrimage there sometime this year.)  In this image, Mary gently holds three little children as she looks on them with love.  We can imagine how Mary’s heart is so broken by the scourge of abortion in our world, and how she much love she must have for every child—born and unborn.

January 22nd is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states.  I invite you to join me in praying daily for an end to abortion.

This second image, simply called Mary and Baby Jesus, is a beautiful sketch by Jean Keaton.  From her website: “Colored pencil drawing of Mary and Baby Jesus sharing a tender moment.  Although Mary knew that Jesus was the Son of God and King of the world, for a few precious years he was simply her baby boy.   ‘And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:18-19)”

Her website also explains that Jean noticed that most artwork depicting Jesus with children lacked the happiness conveyed in one particular image she had seen.  She felt compelled to create her own art which would reflect that happiness.  I think she has certainly accomplished it in this image!


You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke



January 12th, 2020 – The Baptism of the Lord

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January 12th, 2020

This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”


The first of this weeks’ images is another version of the Adoration of the Magi.  This one was painted in 1624 by Abraham Bloemaert.

This is another beautiful image of Mary presenting the Christ Child to the Magi who have come to pay him homage and offer him their gifts.  The Child Jesus gently touches the hand of one of the kings as he extends his hand in homage.

The second image is called The Holy Family with St. Francis, and was painted about 1665 by Jacob van Oost.  This is a beautiful image of St. Francis of Assisi worshiping the Baby Jesus.  St. Francis was one of the few saints who have had the stigmata, i.e. the wounds of Christ on their body.  You can see the wound from the nail on St. Francis’ hand.

St. Francis is the one who made popular the crèche or nativity scene.  One year for Christmas, he decided he wanted to gather people to act out the Nativity, so he brought together animals and people to play the various parts.  Since that time, people around the world setup displays to portray the holy night of Jesus’ birth.


You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


(Note: To see the images in color, check our website!)

January 5th, 2020 – The Epiphany of the Lord

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January 5th, 2020

The Epiphany of the Lord


“And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,

they departed for their country by another way.”


This week’s Marian images are connected with the feast of the Epiphany, which we celebrate this Sunday.

This first image is called Adoration of the Magi, and was painting around 1655-60 by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

This is a very beautiful image showing the devotion of the three Wise Men, or Magi, who have searched for the Christ Child and come to do him homage.  Mary gently presents the child to them.  There are two children on the left side of the picture, one looks lovingly on the baby Jesus, while the other child looks at the viewer as if asking the us if we too have come to adore the Christ Child.

The second image is a mosaic (composed of small pieces of colored stone) depicting The Wedding Feast at Cana.  While we primarily think of the feast of the Epiphany connected with the Three Kings, it is also connected with the Wedding Feast at Cana.  The word Epiphany means the manifestation of Christ to the world, and that happens both in the visitation of the three Gentile kings (the Magi), and also when Jesus performs his first miracle at Cana, thus revealing his glory his power and glory to the world.


You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


(Note: To see the images in color, check our website!)

December 29, 2019 – The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph

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December 29, 2019

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph

 “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?”


This week’s Marian images are connected with two of the feasts: St. John the Evangelist (December 27), and the Holy Family (the Sunday after Christmas).

This first image is called The Holy Family with a Bird, and was painted in 1650 by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

I love this image because it shows the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—interacting in a normal household setting, as a simple human family.  The Gospels tell us very little about Jesus’ childhood, but we can imagine that it was a joyful house.

The second image is a stained glass window showing St. John giving Communion to Our Lady.  This window is in the Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart in Georgetown University.

This is a beautiful image of Mary’s humility and love.  Although she is the Mother of Jesus, carried Him in her womb, and gave birth to Him, yet she humbly waits to receive Jesus sacramentally in the Eucharist.

Jesus made St. John a priest at the Last Supper (along with the other apostles).  Thus, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, St. John would celebrate the Mass and Mary would receive Communion from him.

May this picture inspire us in our love for Jesus in the Eucharist as well!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke



December 15, 2019 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

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December 15, 2019

3rd Sunday of Advent

Gaudete Sunday


“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.”


This week’s Marian image is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this past Thursday, December 12th.  In 1531, Mary appeared to Juan Diego near Mexico City.  She asked him to go to the bishop and ask him to build a church in the place where she had appeared.  At first the bishop did not believe Juan Diego, and he asked for a sign.  Three days later, on December 12th, Mary again appeared to Juan Diego and this time gave him a sign to bring to the bishop.  Despite it being freezing cold, Mary caused roses to grow and told Juan Diego to pick the roses and bring them to the bishop.  When Juan Diego opened his tilma (cloak) to show the bishop the roses, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe suddenly appeared on the tilma.

This tilma should have deteriorated after just a few years or decades, but it has survived for nearly 500 years now and is on display in the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

I have visited this shrine, and it is a very beautiful and special pilgrimage location, and each year millions of people visit this shrine to show their honor for Mary and ask for her prayers.

The symbolism of the image is significant as well.  Mary appears as a native Aztec princess, thus showing her closeness to the native peoples.  She has a black ribbon around her waist, symbolic of her being with child.  She is standing in front of the sun and with the moon under her feet, fulfilling the prophecy from Revelation 12:1.

As a result of Our Lady of Guadalupe appearing, millions of native peoples from Mexico and the surrounding region converted to Catholicism.  I ask you to join me in calling upon Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe and ask her to help bring about a new conversion in our world today.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke


December 8, 2019 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

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December 8, 2019

2nd Sunday of Advent

 “A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

As we kick off this special Year of Mary, I’m very excited to announce that every week this year I will be sharing one or two pictures of Mary and explaining their history and significance.  I hope this beautiful art will inspire you throughout the coming year!

I hope you are all familiar with these two beautiful images that hang in our church.  Both were donated by parishioners within the last decade.

One is a picture of Mary herself, and the other is a picture of Saints Anne and Joachim, the parents of Mary.  “The Immaculate Conception was when Mary was conceived, in the normal way, without original sin in the womb of her mother, Anne.  Mary’s Immaculate Conception, when understood properly, brings hope to the world and reveals the quiet unfolding of God’s promise and providential plan of salvation.” – Fr. Troy Przybilla

Typically, images representing the Immaculate Conception are pictures of Mary herself, as this banner image shows.  The other picture, however, shows St. Anne pregnant with Mary.  This representation speaks to the fact that Mary was created without sin from the very moment of her conception.  Thus, even before Mary was born or became the Mother of God, she was already the Immaculate Conception.

The history and symbolism of the image of Saints Anne and Joachim is written on a plaque just below the image in church.  If you have never read this description, I encourage you to do so!  It is very meaningful and inspiring.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

IC-CCW Holiday Bake Sale 2019

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Stock up on delicious home-made treats for the Holidays!

Featuring Holiday Goodies, Breads, Rolls, Kolacky, Zelnacky and MUCH MORE!

Saturday, December 8 after the 5:00 PM Mass

Sunday, December 9 after the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Masses

Immaculate Conception Church Basement

Sponsored by the Immaculate Conception Council of Catholic Women

We welcome you to join us for Mass.

“100 Years of Good Cooking” Cookbooks will be available for sale.


December 1, 2019 – First Sunday of Advent

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December 1, 2019

First Sunday of Advent

 “So too, you must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Advent Traditions

Advent is my favorite season of the church year.  First and foremost, because it teaches us to look forward to the coming of Jesus with love and longing in our hearts.  And secondly, I think I love this season because it is so full of decorations and faith-filled symbols.

Perhaps the most common symbol we think about when we celebrate Advent is the Advent Wreath.  I remember as a child looking forward to being able to light one or more candles each night as we prayed as a family.

The first Sunday of Advent we light the first purple candle as a symbol of Hope that comes from the coming messiah brining salvation.  The second Sunday we light the second purple candle as a symbol of Peace for Christ the Prince of Peace.  The third Sunday we light the rose candle as a symbol of Joy in honor of the shepherds who heard the joyful news about the Christ Child.  And the fourth Sunday we light the final purple candle as a symbol of Love in honor of God’s love for us.  As we read in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

The flames on the candles symbolize Christ, the light of the world, and this light gets brighter as more candles are lit and we come closer to Christmas.  The wreath is in a circle as a symbol of God’s eternity and unity.

Another wonderful family tradition for Advent is an Advent Calendar.  This special calendar has a scripture passage for each day of Advent which anticipates the coming of Jesus at Christmas.  This is a wonderful tradition, especially for families with younger children, but also for us adults, to see how scripture leads up to the birth of Jesus.  (Advent calendars are available in the back of church!)

A Jesse Tree is another way to walk through each day of Advent by looking at bible stories that look forward to the coming of Jesus.  The name comes from Isaiah 11:1 – “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”  Jesus, of course, is the shoot that sprouts from the stump of Jesse.  Each day of Advent a symbol of special significance is hung on the Jesse Tree.  I encourage you to look this up online and consider making your own Jesse Tree.

Another simple DIY Advent activity is to make linking paper rings—one for each day of Advent.  Then each morning, let one of your children cut one of the paper rings.  My family really enjoyed this growing up, since it is such a good visual of Christmas coming closer each day.

Then of course there are the important Nativity Scene, Christmas Tree, and Christmas Lights.  These certainly add to the festivity and anticipation leading up to Christmas.  However, I urge you to resist the urge to setup everything right after Thanksgiving, and instead do it bit by bit as we come closer to Christmas Day…thus growing in anticipation.  (Or, if already up, not turn all the lights on right away.)

Advent is such a wonderful and important season.  While the world jumps right from Thanksgiving (or even Halloween) to Christmas, it is important for us to celebrate this season as a time to prepare our hearts and look forward to the coming of Jesus with longing and love.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke



November 24th, 2019 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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November 24th, 2019

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

A year dedicated to Mary, Our Mother

Two weeks ago, I announced that we will be celebrating this coming year, 2020, as a special year dedicated to Mary, Our Mother, and the patroness of our parish.  I am very excited about this!

I want to encourage you to participate in as many events for the Year of Mary as you will be able to.  We will be organizing a few events at church, and others for you to do in your homes.

In particular, I want to encourage you to attend the opening Mass on Monday, December 9th – The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Our feast day is usually December 8th, but this year the 8th is a Sunday, and so the feast is transferred to Monday, the 9th.  Since the feast is transferred, it is not a holy day of obligation this year, however, since it is our parish’s feast day, and will be the kickoff for the Year of Mary, I really hope everyone will attend Mass this day.

The morning Mass will be at 8:15am, with the Holy Cross kids coming to IC and joining us.  The evening Mass will be at 7pm.

I truly believe that if we grow in our devotion to Mary, our parish will begin to see a great revival.  Not only will our own hearts grow closer to Jesus and Mary, but I believe that this church dedicated to Mary will begin to see its pews filled again.  And I believe our young people will not only remain in the Church, but will love the faith and be on fire for Jesus Christ.  But we need the help of Our Mother.

I ask all of you to please invest in this upcoming Year of Mary.


One other thing to note…

We are organizing a beautiful event to kick off the Advent Season.  We will be celebrating solemn Vespers, or Evening Prayer, on Sunday, December 1st, at 4:00pm in the church.  I have done these events both in the seminary and in previous parishes, and they are very beautiful.  It’s not a Mass, rather, it is chanting and praying Evening Prayer.  I really encourage you to bring your family for this wonderful event!

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke